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From balance bikes to e-bikes, these are the top bicycles for children of all ages.
Medically reviewed by Tyra Tennyson Francis, MDFact checked by Rich Scherr
For most of us, a bicycle was the first form of transportation that let us come and go as we pleased before we learned to drive. A good bike isn’t just a way to get from point A to point B, for kids, it’s also a step toward independence—a journey that can start in their toddler years with a balance bike and continue into their teens. To help you shop for the best kids’ bikes for kids of every age, we looked at dozens of the most popular and reputable bicycle brands, poured over real reviews, and spoke to top experts in the field.
As a parent, your shopping criteria are going to be a bit different than your child’s. While they may only care about whether a bike is their favorite color, you’re concerned about a lot more. A good bike should be both durable and adjustable so that your child can use it for several years before outgrowing it and needing a newer model. For your child’s safety, you also want a frame that’s not too heavy, brakes that are easy for your child to operate, and—if it has multiple speeds—a gear shift that’s intuitive and can be manipulated mid-ride. And since you’re most likely the one assembling the bike, you want something that’s straightforward to put together and doesn’t make you rethink your life choices an hour later.
Whether your child wants their first set of two wheels, a mountain bike for all-terrain riding, a road bike for long-distance family rides, a cruiser for a casual turn around the block with their friends, or a BMX bike they can practice tricks with the cool kids in the skate park, there’s a bicycle out there for them. Here’s where you can start.
Best Overall for Younger Kids: Schwinn 16" Snap Kids Bike With Training Wheels
Why We Like It: This beginner-friendly bike has plenty of safety features to keep little ones protected while they ride, and the hand brake makes the transition to a bigger bike easier.
But Take Note: Be prepared to have to retighten the training wheels after every few rides. Also, this bicycle is available only at Walmart.
For those early years of riding, parents should prioritize finding a good bike that offers plenty of room to grow, doesn’t take half a day to assemble, and comes with smart safety features to protect budding riders. The Schwinn 16” Snap checks off all of those boxes. While we’re listing the 16-inch wheel model, it also comes in 12-inch and 18-inch diameters. As with any bike, always note the manufacturer’s height requirements and measure that against your child before making a purchase.
This 16-inch bike is designed for children between 38 and 48 inches tall. This is a one-speed bike, making it ideal for your child’s first real pedal bike once they graduate from a balance bike. Parents have noted that assembly was fairly easy and only took roughly 30 minutes to complete.
Safety is the priority with the Schwinn Snap and one of the key features we like about it is the dual brake system. This includes rear coasters (that’s when you slam the pedals back to stop), as well as a hand brake on the left handlebar. Likewise, the chain is completely covered to protect your child from getting scratched by it. It also comes with removable training wheels and an adjustable seat height, so that this bike grows with your littlest rider.
While this is a popular bike among parents, there are a few drawbacks. Although the 16-inch wheel is recommended for children between 3 to 7 years of age, if your child is shorter than 38 inches, this might be difficult for them to use. Additionally, several parent reviewers found that the training wheels have a tendency to loosen every so many rides. So, be prepared to retighten them regularly until your child is ready to have them removed permanently.
Price at time of publication: $138
Wheel size: 12, 16, 18 inches
Bike weight: Not listed
Training wheels: Yes
Frame material: Steel
Brakes: Rear coaster and hand brake
Recommended height/weight limit: 38-48 inches
Best Overall for Older Kids: Cannondale Quick 24 Kids' Bike
Why We Like It: Tweens and teens will appreciate this seven-gear bike that’s designed for both on- and off-roading while still providing a stable ride and easy handling.
But Take Note: If you’re not super handy with a wrench, you may want to choose in-store assembly from REI.
Once your child has outgrown their first bicycle and is ready for changing gears and using hand brakes, it’s time for an upgrade. The Cannondale Quick 24 is a solid option they can probably use into their early teens. Just be warned, this is a bike that’s built for speed and is intended for kids who have clearly mastered braking and maneuvering at speed.
This bike comes with seven gears (the shifter and derailleur are from reputable brand Shimano) and has a grippy set of tires that are intended for on- and off-roading. The versatile bike boasts a light alloy frame with a step-over design. Although we’ve listed the 24-inch wheel model, which is compatible for kids from heights 46 to 57 inches, there’s also a 20-inch model for shorter children who are ready for the same features.
We also appreciate that the Cannondale Quick comes with a kickstand and is fairly lightweight with an alloy frame that’s just over 20 pounds. The responsive brakes and well-constructed frame create a safe but zippy bike that’s designed with maneuverability in mind. The obvious elephant in the room is that this is a pricier bike option, but this is a bike that’s built to last—and you’ll probably be able to pass it on or resell it when your child outgrows it.
Bikes are notorious for being difficult to assemble, and the Cannondale Quick is no exception. We’ve heard from parents that this took longer than expected to assemble, and it doesn’t ship with the necessary tools. But we recommend you combat this pain point by taking the bike to a local bike shop to have it assembled for you if possible. This will also ensure that the brakes and wheels are correctly installed for maximum safety. If you buy this online from REI.com, you can have it assembled in the store for free.
Price at time of publication: $400
Wheel size: 24 inches
Bike weight: 20.7 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Alloy
Brakes: Hand brakes
Recommended height/weight limit: 46-57 inches
Best Lightweight: Woom 3 Single Speed
Why We Like It: At just 13.1 pounds, this is a very lightweight bike that lets speedy tots go lightning fast. Plus, it comes nearly completely assembled and with plenty of smart features for budding riders.
But Take Note: Although designed with new riders in mind, the two-speed Automagic variant makes shifting back down into the lower gear more difficult on inclines, and requires more advanced techniques that newbie riders may not have mastered.
A heavy bike might be good for cruisers, but it’s not ideal if you’re trying to simply master basic bike riding. With a 16-inch wheel, the Woom Original 3 is the graduated option you give a child that’s ready for the training wheels to come off, but shouldn’t have access to a bike with a wider speed range.
This pick is ideal for kids between 41 to 47 inches tall, about ages 4 to 6. Available in six vibrant hues, its standout feature is that it weighs just 13.1 pounds, thanks to the aluminum frame, making it super easy for young kids to balance and propel.
The bike also includes some impressive safety and design features. It has hand brakes that are different colors (to learn which operates the front wheel and which operates the rear one) and adjustable, so you can get a perfect fit for your child’s hand. (While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission currently requires kids’ bikes to come with coaster brakes, Woom maintains that hand brakes are safer, and the brand offers the option to go without the coaster. As of this writing, CPSC is considering petitions to change the law.) The pedal distance is optimized to promote balance and make pedaling easier, and the chain is fully covered to protect little hands, legs, and feet from scratches. It also has a lower center of gravity for improved balance.
Parents will also appreciate that the Woom Original 3 comes nearly completely assembled, and all you need to do is attach the handlebars, seat, and pedals. And when it’s time to adjust the seat, the quick-release seatpost clamp makes that easy to do.
Note that this bike is available in the single-speed original or “AutoMagic” which has two speeds (for $50 more). The AutoMagic is 1.2 pounds heavier than the single-speed and allows more experienced riders to shift into a faster speed. One common concern parents had was that attempting to downshift back to the lower speed was difficult to achieve, especially if a rider was on an incline. In some cases, it could only be done if a child backpedaled while riding uphill. This isn’t the hardest thing to do, but for beginner riders, it might be confusing.
Price at time of publication: $449
Wheel size: 16 inches
Bike weight: from 13.1 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Aluminum
Brakes: Hand brakes
Recommended height/weight limit: 41-47 inches
Best Value: Royalbaby Freestyle Kids Bike
Why We Like It: A versatile bike that’s available in five wheel sizes makes this compatible with a wider age range, and a fast 15-minute assembly makes this a hit with parents too.
But Take Note: Although the steel frame adds to this bike’s durability, it might also make it a heavier option that’s harder to maneuver.
If you’re shopping for a beginner bike and don’t want to spend a lot on something they’ll outgrow quickly, the Royalbaby Freestyle Kids Bike is a solid option that comes in a wide size range. While we’re highlighting the 16-inch wheel model, you can also choose from the 12-, 14-, 18-, and 20-inch wheel diameters. The 12-, 14-, and 16-inch versions come with training wheels, and they all have a kickstand.
Available in eight colors, this is a great unisex bike that makes a good gift. A key standout feature is that the brand promises easy assembly since it ships to your door 95% assembled. The remaining steps can be completed in around 15 minutes with included tools and a detailed instruction sheet. There’s also a water bottle holder located behind the adjustable seat. Hand brakes aid in easing your child into riding a bike but you’ll still get coaster brakes too.
Note that this bike has a steel frame, which is a bit heavier than an aluminum or an alloy frame model. However, this can also support enhanced durability. When paired with Royalbaby’s sealed bearing design, this all translates into a smooth ride that reduces maintenance needs. For the 12-, 14-, and 16-inch models, the seat comes with a built-in handle that helps when teaching kids to ride on two wheels.
While the majority of reviews for this bike are positive, some parents mention that in the smaller wheel sizes, the steel frame can be too heavy for young children, making this bike a little difficult for children to maneuver. The 16-inch bike featured here weighs 25 pounds, which might be a heavy option for a child who is the recommended 41 to 45 inches tall.
Price at time of publication: $133
Wheel size: 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Bike weight: 19-28 pounds
Training wheels: With the 12-, 14-, and 16-inch wheel models
Frame material: Steel
Brakes: Hand and coaster brakes
Recommended height/weight limit: 41-45 inches tall for 16-inch model
Best Balance Bike: Bixe Aluminum Balance Bike
Why We Like It: This quick-assembly balance bike is lightweight for both you and your tot and comes in four fun colors.
But Take Note: The tread on the foam tires gives the appearance of superior grip, but they may fail on slippery surfaces like tile.
Early riders need a bike that’s easy for them to manage. This usually means that you want something that’s fairly lightweight yet still offers plenty of stability. Enter, the balance bike, which lets children still use their feet to push around, but helps them gain their balance so they can eventually graduate to a more traditional ride with pedals. Bike experts recommend balance bikes (or regular bikes with the pedals removed) as a better way than training wheels to teach riding on two wheels. The Bixe Aluminum Balance Bike weighs just 4 pounds, making these early rides easy for tots and parents alike.
Kids from as young as 2 to as old as 5 can enjoy the Bixe. And parents won’t feel like they’re lugging a sack of potatoes if little legs grow tired before you get home. Kids will also like that this bike comes in four colors, purple, green, blue, and pink.
The breakout feature of the Bixe Balance Bike is that it’s got one of the easiest assembly processes of the bikes we reviewed. One of the most annoying aspects of buying a bike online is the assembly. Often, your bike ships without the wheels attached, or you need to install the brakes. Either way, many a parent has re-enacted the tire change scene from A Christmas Story when putting together a bike. The Bixe comes mostly assembled with the wheels already attached. Adults just need to attach the bike seat and handlebars. Better still, you can easily adjust the bike as kids grow, with a seat that can shift from 11 inches off the ground to as high as 17 inches. Similarly, the handlebars can be tweaked from 20 to 24 inches.
One area where the Bixe underperforms for some is traction. While you get 12-inch foam tires that promise to never go flat, that thick tread doesn’t always translate to a solid grip on all surfaces. In particular, some parents have found that on very smooth or slick surfaces like tile, the bike has a habit of either losing friction to maintain forward momentum or creating a slip risk.
Price at time of publication: $70
Wheel size: 12 inches
Bike weight: 4 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Aluminum
Recommended height/weight limit: 85 pounds
Best Mountain Bike: Co-op Cycles REV 20 6-Speed Plus Kids' Mountain Bike
Why We Like It: Wider tires provide enhanced stability, while a six-speed drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes will please kids who feel the need for speed.
But Take Note: The nearly 24-pound bike weight might be a bit much for younger kids to effectively maneuver, and younger riders may struggle to operate the gear shift.
Mountain bikes are a favorite for any kid who likes an off-road adventure, and still work quite well on pavement too. If your child has mastered casual bike riding and is ready to upgrade to a more serious set of wheels, the REI Co-op Rev 20 will be a smooth transition for them—or a delightfully bumpy one if that’s what they’re looking for.
This is a 20-inch wheel bike that comes with six speeds with gear shifts activated by a twist shifter. The 2.6-inch wide all-terrain tires provide added stability and grip regardless of whether your child is riding on the sidewalk or over uneven surfaces. You’ll also get a maximum weight capacity of 80 pounds for wider age-range compatibility. The aluminum standover frame supports added maneuverability as well.
One thing to note about this bike is that it’s a bit heavier than a road or hybrid bicycle. At 23 pounds, the Rev 20 might be a little difficult for younger riders to maneuver, even though the brand says it’s compatible for kids from 6 to 10 years of age. Additionally, some parents have mentioned that younger riders also struggled to switch gears because it required more hand strength to activate the twist shifter than one with a lever. Another barrier for many families is the price, as $400 puts this in the splurge category for a kids’ bike. But like with other REI bicycle purchases, this comes with in-store assembly and a year of adjustments.
Price at time of publication: $399
Wheel size: 20 inches
Bike weight: 23 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Aluminum
Brakes: Rear disc brakes
Recommended height/weight limit: 80 pounds
Best Electric Bike: Schwinn Healy Ridge Electric Mountain Bike
Why We Like It: You’ll get up to 20 miles of ride time on a single charge with this pedal-assist bike and can fully recharge the battery from zero to 100% in just four hours.
But Take Note: This is a seriously heavy bike at 59 pounds—making it ideal for essentially only older riders with stamina.
Electric bikes can be a lot of fun, but they’re not intended for novice riders. Before you even think about introducing an e-bike to your child, you should be confident in their riding capabilities. Accidents associated with personal mobility devices (think e-scooters and e-bikes) often have more severe injuries than those on regular bikes—with one study comparing them to motorcycle accidents. Read more safety warnings in this article below, and then if you’re sure your child is capable and ready, Schwinn’s Signature 24” Healy Ridge Electric Bike is a good option.
This is a 24-inch wheel mountain bike, which is intended for taller tweens or teens who are at least 56 inches tall. We like that this is a pedal-assist bike with your choice of four assistance levels. This translates to more control since your child still has to pedal in order to propel the bike forward and keep the motor activated. The maximum speed the bike can achieve with pedal assist is 16 miles per hour, and you’ll get up to 20 hours of ride time on a single charge.
While riding, kids can take advantage of the 18-speed drivetrain and use the twist shifter to adjust the speed depending on the terrain. Additionally, they’ll also have mechanical disc brakes that work in all weather conditions. When it’s time to recharge the battery, you can completely top it up from empty in just four hours, and the lithium-ion battery is SGS certified to comply with UL 2849 for safety (a standard all bike batteries should meet).
The only real issue here is that at 59 pounds, this is a much heavier bike than any other on this list, which is to be expected in an e-bike and has the added weight from the battery and motor. And of course, electric bikes are significantly more expensive than their manual counterparts.
Price at time of publication: $600
Wheel size: 24 inches
Bike weight: 59 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Aluminum
Brakes: Rear disc
Recommended height/weight limit: Fits 4’8” to 5’6” tall
Best BMX: Mongoose Legion Kids Freestyle BMX Bike
Why We Like It: Aspiring X-Games champions will love performing tricks with this durable steel frame design featuring removable brake mounts.
But Take Note: If you’re shopping for a bike with frustration-free assembly, look elsewhere.
BMX bikes are the pinnacle of performance if your child is trying to jump and complete other tricks. The Mongoose Legion Kids Freestyle 20-inch BMX Bike is a great entry that’s designed with durability in mind.
The steel frame means that it can take a knock or two with no issue. The 20-inch wheel measures 2.3 inches wide for added maneuverability and durability on pavement or dirt. There are also removable brake mounts. However, this is just a single-speed bike. Note that the Legion 20 is intended for more intermediate riders who are at least 56 inches tall. If you want to get a BMX bike for a younger/shorter rider, the Mongoose L10 model is intended for newbies.
The primary concern we discovered from parents is that assembling this bike is far from easy. Some shared that installing the brake line required calling into a bike shop, and total assembly time took well over an hour. If you can’t see yourself having the patience to deal with this, we recommend taking the Mongoose L20 to your local bike shop or buying something in-store.
Price at time of publication: $390
Wheel size: 20 inches
Bike weight: 27 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Steel
Brakes: Aluminum u-brake
Recommended height/weight limit: 4’8” to 5’4”
Best Cruiser: Huffy 24" Nel Lusso Cruiser Bike
Why We Like It: This sweet retro ride is perfect for taking a spin around the block and features a lower center of gravity for enhanced stability and posture.
But Take Note: It weighs in at a hefty 48 pounds, though that extra weight is typical of cruisers.
If you’re not familiar with cruiser bikes, they’re exactly what they sound like: intended for smoother riding, with a shape that lets you keep your feet on the ground when you’re not in motion. The Nel Lusso Cruiser has a fun retro feel with cream tires and a powder-coated paint trim on the steel frame. It also comes with a built-in basket and integrated rear rack for added storage.
There are fenders on both tires to prevent splashback when riding in wet conditions. This is a 24-inch wheel bike, which is typically for riders ages 12 and up, or 56 to 68 inches tall. This ride is all about comfort and stability, featuring a lowered center of gravity to aid in maintaining balance and a seat positioned slightly back to further reduce strain on the arms, back, and legs. The handlebars are set further back to aid in maintaining proper posture while reducing arm, wrist, and hand strain.
Because this is a cruiser, you only get one speed. It also has coaster brakes to keep your kids safe while they ride. The steel frame enhances durability but does make the bike’s total weight come in at 48 pounds. As is common with many online bike purchases, be prepared for some assembly hassles. We have heard complaints of frustrating instructions and packaging that didn’t fully protect components from getting damaged in transit.
Price at time of publication: $228
Wheel size: 24 inches
Bike weight: 48 pounds
Training wheels: No
Frame material: Steel
Recommended height/weight limit: 48-68 inches
Our Review Process
A kids’ bike may be a standard recreational item that most people grow up using, but a lot can go into choosing the right one. While we did take price into consideration, safety is critical since the last thing a parent wants is to give their child an item that sends them to the emergency room.
To create our roundup of the best bikes for your children, we looked at real-world reviews from parents while also consulting experts behind some of the most recognizable bike brands in the world.
Justin Hong is the product manager at Specialized, a bike manufacturer that specializes (no pun intended) in mountain, road, and electric bikes for adults, kids, and toddlers. Lisa VanderMause is the vice president of marketing and consumer experience at Pacific Cycle, including Schwinn Bikes. Finally, Burton Avery is the senior product manager and product developer at Cannondale, another well-known independent bike brand.
To weed the good from the mediocre options, we considered a few key factors: assembly, weight, age compatibility, speeds/gears, and brakes. Assembly is a major pain point for many parents. Cheaper bikes tend to require more assembly, and often critical safety features like installing the brake line are the most troublesome to complete. So, we avoided the bulk of the bikes that weren’t user-friendly in this arena. There’s a trade-off, however: The easier it is to assemble a bike, the more expensive it may be upfront.
After assembly, we looked at the weight and age compatibility. Note that bikes with training wheels and balance bikes are usually smaller. Balance bikes typically won’t exceed 12-inch wheels, and you normally won’t find training wheels as a standard included accessory for bike wheels bigger than 16 inches. Similarly, specialized bike categories like mountain, cruiser, and BMX tended to be for 16-inch and up because the assumption is that your child will be older and bigger before they’re ready for them.
We included a fairly even roster of single-speed and multi-speed bikes. Single-speed is ideal for beginners, whereas a multi-speed bike is better for kids who are a little more adventurous and have mastered basic balance and pedal propulsion. But speed also goes hand-in-hand with ease of use for children. So, we looked for options where the parents reported that their children could easily manage maneuvering and pedaling. This includes having a lightweight frame, as well as brakes that can be easily triggered as needed.
Finally, we did include one electric bike option. While it is possible to find smaller sizes in the electric category including balance bikes, we limited it to a 24-inch size for kids in their tweens and up. Because electric bikes require riders to be more experienced and can also pose a bigger safety risk, we did not want to promote an electric bike for beginners.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Kids’ Bike
Age and Size
Age and size are the first things you need to consider when shopping for a bike for your child. You’ll note that bikes are typically labeled by the wheel size. This is what most brands will use as the primary way to denote the corresponding age.
Hong shares that parents should pick a lightweight bike for children, especially for budding riders. Not only is it easier for kids to handle but it also “helps kids boost their confidence and cultivate a passion for biking,” he tells us.
Bike brands should list the height and weight range for each wheel size. Keep in mind that each bike brand may have a different scale. But on average, the below chart will give you a guideline when shopping for a kids’ bike.
2-3 years old
About 14-17 inches
3-4 years old
About 16-20 inches
4-5 years old
About 18-22 inches
5-8 years old
About 22-25 inches
8-11 years old
About 24-28 inches
11+ years old
About 26 inches and over
Type of Bicycle
There are actually a wide array of bicycle categories, but we focused on the models you’re most likely to encounter for children: mountain, BMX, balance, freestyle, and cruiser bikes. But many bikes geared for the youngest riders aren’t officially labeled as any of the above categories.
Mountain bikes are suitable for all terrains, with fatter tires that are compatible with a wider array of surfaces from on- and off-roading. Their design provides stability while also supporting maneuverability. These usually also come with aluminum frames that are fairly lightweight and support multiple speeds to get up and down steep inclines.
BMX bikes will usually only support one speed, only have rear brakes, and feature a steel frame as they’re intended for tricks and need more durability. This is a bike geared towards a more sophisticated rider.
By contrast, a balance bike is for the littlest riders, doesn’t come with pedals, and is solely meant for children to learn to maintain positioning and posture while sitting on a moving object. Avery champions this model as the best “starter bike” for children. It allows kids to “learn to balance at their own speed and won’t need their parents running behind them with a hand on the saddle.”
Freestyle bikes look similar to BMX bikes, but have both front and rear brakes. They’re usually equipped with fat tires.
Cruisers are more for the casual rider as they feature a larger frame, a lower center of gravity, and recessed handlebars to improve stability while you ride.
And although we didn’t list it as a specific bike type, electric bikes are also available for kids too in many of the above traditional categories. E-bikes are usually significantly more expensive and heavier than a traditional manually-powered bike because of the added motor and battery pack.
Brakes and Gears
In most cases, you’ll find that kids’ bikes feature two main types of brakes, hand or coaster. Coaster brakes (also known as rear pedal brakes) can’t be triggered until you begin to pedal backward. Although this sounds straightforward, it can be a bit tricky for younger tots who have just graduated from a balance bike. Avery shares that while most kids find hand brakes easier, U.S. regulations currently require that all “sidewalk” bikes (those sized for kids, with a seat height of 25 inches or under) have coaster brakes.
Hand brakes are easily triggered by squeezing a lever on the handle. Some bikes will have both coaster and single hand brakes, allowing kids to practice the hand brakes before they make the transition to a bigger model. Many models that are 20 inches and larger will come with brakes on both handles.
Gears dictate how easily your child can pedal and gain momentum (read speed). Poor gearing can leave your little one pedaling furiously, but going nowhere fast, or struggling hard to move the pedals at all while going uphill. While gears are important no matter the terrain, this is especially critical as you focus on bikes that offer multiple speeds or for off-road conditions. Although this is a very technical specification, the experts recommend considering the gain ratio for this factor. A high gain ratio means that initially, your child needs to exert more effort to get moving, but once momentum is gained, they can move farther with each pedal stroke. Meanwhile, a gear with a low gain ratio is easier to get started but requires sustained pedaling to maintain momentum. Even for a single-speed bike, consider whether your child is the type who wants to ride for hours or is only making short trips around the block. If they’re long-haul riders, then a higher gain is technically better for them.
Adjustability and Assembly
No parent wants to buy an expensive bike that their child is going to outgrow within a year, and growth spurts can make this a real risk. To avoid this heartache, you’ll want to consider the adjustability of a bike. In most cases, this will include the ability to raise or lower the handlebars and seat, hopefully without too much effort or special tools.
Along the same lines, one of the biggest pain points we noted through real user reviews was the assembly process. In most cases, if you’re buying a bike online, you’re going to have to assemble it. Often this means attaching the wheels, brakes, and pedals. In our guide, the Woom Original 3 16-Inch Bike, and the Royalbaby Freestyle 16 Kids Bike featured easy assembly that took less than half an hour for most reviewers.
If you’re not particularly handy, we highly recommend paying a visit to your local bike shop for help. Likewise, it’s fairly common that bikes will need additional adjustments after the first few weeks of using it. So, make friends with your local bike purveyor so they can help you adjust the wheels, seat or handle heights, or brakes as needed. Bikes purchased online from REI often come with the option to pick them up assembled in the store.
Cost and Durability
Bikes can be pricey, and the more features they come with, the higher the price tag. Unsurprisingly, electric bikes are the most expensive option on the market thanks to the added expense of a motor and battery pack. Even for kids, these bikes can easily top $1,000.
It is possible though, to find wallet-friendly manual options for under $100 although these will usually be single-speed or balance bikes, and for much younger, inexperienced riders. Avery also reminds parents that budget bikes can be difficult to repair and “will often be very heavy, making for a more challenging riding experience.”
In our guide, pricing ranged from just over $100 to around $400. The average price tends to be around $200, and this will still get you a solid bike that should work for a couple of years before you need to upgrade to a larger model. If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get a bicycle that will last longer than your child will use it, which means you can pass it down to a younger child or resell it, getting more return on your investment.
How to Use Kids' Bikes Safely
Learning to ride a bike is a great way for children to stay active, but it’s not without risks. No parent wants their children to get injured while riding. So, being smart when teaching your child to ride, as well as having the proper accessories is critical.
Helmets Are Important
“Before a child straddles or sits on a bike, ensure they have a properly sized helmet on their head, it’s adjusted correctly, and it’s buckled,” VanderMause says, echoing the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This includes those short trips around the block. Make sure they’re wearing an actual bicycle helmet, as this is the only headgear truly intended for this type of activity.
Make helmet-wearing second nature by including your kids in the selection process. Encourage them to decorate it and add reflective stickers to it for added visibility. Also note that if your child does get into an accident while wearing a helmet, you’ll need to replace it. Likewise, second-hand helmets aren’t recommended.
Always Pick a Safe Environment
Beginner riders should never get their first lessons on the street. Hong reminds parents that a safe, suitable location (away from traffic) is always key.
Pick the Right Size Bike
Children’s bikes are made with an intended age range. So, even though parents might want to avoid having to size up sooner than intended, resist the urge to get a bike rated for an age or height range ahead of your child’s current dimensions. Having them ride a bigger bike is dangerous, since they might not maneuver it properly and may struggle to pedal effectively or correctly. This can translate into more accidents, difficulty maintaining balance, and reduced control.
Always Ride to the Right of Traffic
To be clear, if your child is just learning to ride, the street is no place for them. But once they’ve mastered their bike riding skills, experts agree that if they’re riding on the street, then they should be to the right of cars, riding with traffic and not against it. Experts note that the most common bike-car collisions are from oncoming traffic.
Don’t Forget Hand Signals
Again, if your child is just starting to ride a bike, keep them on the sidewalk. But once they’re more experienced, learning to use hand signals helps when sharing the road with cars. Incidentally, bike riders are also expected to follow the rules of the road—including stopping at stop lights or signs.
Skip the Night Rides
Even with reflective gear, night rides can be dangerous. Motorists won’t always see a bicyclist. Riding at night should be limited to the most experienced of riders. When the sun goes down, put the bike away.
Using Electric Bikes Safely
Electric bikes can be fun, but they are inherently more risky than a traditional pedal bike. The biggest concern centers around your child losing control because of the motorized speed. To minimize this risk, focus on pedal-assist models and avoid throttle bikes as they increase your child’s chances of an accident.
With pedal-assist e-bikes, your child still has to pedal to not only activate the motor but also maintain that added power. By contrast, a throttle bike doesn’t require that the rider continue pedaling to control the speed, which allows them to go too fast.
Electric Bikes and Local Regulations
Along the same lines, understanding local regulations is critical as e-bikes are often considered street legal. This means you can ride them on the road with cars. Most municipalities have guidelines for how fast an e-bike can travel within its jurisdiction. Don’t just rely on the maximum speed outlined by the manufacturer, as it’s possible this can be higher than what’s allowed in your region.
Some children’s e-bikes allow you to further restrict the speed to a lower maximum beyond the manufacturer settings, as an added safeguard. If you’re concerned that your little rider might be a little too daring, this is an option to consider for keeping them safe.
Be Smart About Electric Bike Batteries
Another concern that tends to be more controllable these days with e-bikes is the battery. When e-bikes first appeared on the market, lithium-ion batteries from various manufacturers with inconsistent safety protocols made headlines for spontaneously combusting. This included causing house fires and even catching on fire while people rode personal electronic mobility devices.
To curb this risk United Laboratories, an oversight organization that creates safety standards, crafted UL 2849 which is a set of guidelines manufacturers must follow to create lithium-ion batteries that are used in personal e-mobility devices. These guidelines ensure that the detachable batteries on e-bikes are more stable and less likely to spontaneously combust. But there are still things consumers can do to be smart when using lithium-ion batteries. And note that these recommendations apply to any device that uses a lithium-ion battery—like your smartphone—not just e-bikes, e-scooters, or hoverboards.
Avoid leaving lithium-ion batteries in garages or other areas that lack climate control. Extreme heat and cold can cause the components to become unstable.
Don’t leave your battery plugged in indefinitely after it’s fully charged. Unplug it.
A fully charged battery that’s left unused for extended periods can also become unstable. Discharge (use) the battery to at least 80% to keep it working properly.
Always use approved chargers, cords, and voltage outlets when charging the batteries.
Your Questions, Answered
At what age can you start teaching your kid to ride a bike?
Thanks to the addition of the balance bike category, you can safely begin introducing a bike to your child around 2 years of age. At this stage, you’re just teaching them to maintain posture and form while sitting on a moving object. But note that your child should exhibit readiness before you introduce one. As Lisa VanderMause shared, this means they have “balance, coordination, and physical strength to successfully operate a bicycle.”
How much should a kids’ bike cost?
Ultimately, this is going to depend on whether you’re picking a bike just for your child to cruise around the block or for specific activities, i.e. BMX tricks, or on- and off-road riding. By default, these bikes are going to cost more.
Beyond solely focusing on price, also consider aspects such as safety features, ease of assembly, and longevity. While you can find bikes that are under $100, these are usually intended for the youngest riders and have very limited functionality and longevity. It’s not uncommon to spend between $200 to $400 for a good single-speed bike.
When does my child need a bigger bike?
Two factors will dictate whether or not your child is ready to graduate to a bigger bike. Hong advises that along with your child’s age and height, also consider their riding competency. “If the child wants to ride further, faster, or take on more challenging terrain, parents should consider purchasing a bike suited to those riding characteristics.”
Meanwhile visual cues such as the bike being too short even in the tallest seat or handlebar position, difficulty pedaling because there’s not enough clearance for their knees, or simply looking cramped on their bike are all signs it’s time for an upgrade.
Who We Are
Dorian Smith-Garcia is a commerce, health, and parenting writer at Parents, and a mom of one kindergarten-bound daughter, who has a fun little training bike, complete with a front basket and bell for safety. It came 95% assembled, and she will always champion a mostly or completely assembled bike purchase.
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Read the original article on Parents.